Noel Ellis's Official Blog

I wield the pen to explore the vastness of the human mind

MY LADAKH DIARIES

MY LADAKH DIARIES

 

My climate (acclimatisation) at Leh went off well and I was ready to take on the mountains. For a Mech officer to get posted to high altitude meant one more medal. To earn it, I had to spend 180 days excluding breaks which I thought would be a cake walk. The reality was way off and I shall share how tough life is subsequently.

Early morning we started in a 1ton for Tangtse. It could take 6-8 hours, I was told. All was going well till we passed by a canal. I saw huge layered ice slabs neatly piled like files in a rack. A thought passed my mind, that why they want ice slabs in such weather. I looked at the Indus which was smoothly flowing, shimmering and meandering in the valley below but got no answers. Then I thought they must be transporting ice to Leh. Such weird thoughts get sorted out very fast. I got to know later that the canal had frozen in winter, ice was still melting and water goes to the Stakna hydel project. How stupid I must have felt. Bloody mechie come down to mother earth, I told myself.

As we were crossing a causeway near Karu, my excitement knew no bounds when I saw a BMP near the Indus river bed. My imagination started running wild as the valley was broad enough to take a Combat Group. I had also heard that a Mech Battalion and an Armoured Squadron were located there. I was on home turf kinds and without even reaching Tangtse, I was already making plans to take on the Chinese with anti-tank missiles.

Karu onwards the climb started getting steep. I, who had driven a 1 Ton up every sand dune of Jaisalmer District, now started to feel the presence of the mighty mountains. The scene was barren but sublime. The drive was bumpy and kept getting bumpier. Soon the road disappeared and converted into a track. Our vehicle started skidding. The sound of the engine in constant low gear was telling me something. Sitting behind, I was not able to see the valley below but when suddenly our driver braked and we started to slide backwards and the damn thing turned away from the mountain wall. My instinct to jump out was at its peak. Luckily the tailboard hit the vehicle following us & we came to a halt. All of us jumped doing a kind of obstacle course as the vehicles were kissing each other.

My heart skipped a beat when I peeped over the side into the valley. There were more than 10 odd vehicle chassis crumpled and crushed half buried in a graveyard of sorts. My goodness Lord I said, today we would have been minced. Our driver quickly got out, put a rock under the tyre and opened the tool box. He pulled out some chains. They were very funny looking things and I assumed that they would be for towing but to my surprise I found them to be anti-skid chains. Water had frozen and made a thick slate of ice on the track. Every year I was told that one odd vehicle goes down this slope. Frankly, I got the shivers down my spine. Whatever parts can be recovered from the vehicle is recovered and rest is destroyed in-situ. I shuddered but put up a brave face. The cold now started to grip me; I wore my coat Parka thereon.

I was shocked to see two drivers trying to burn their vehicles by lighting cotton waste under fuel tanks of their 3 Tons parked on one side. I almost shouted at them but I was told that the diesel has frozen in the pipes, as they must not have put anti-freeze in their tanks. I would have arrested them for destroying government property.

We reached Changla, it is 17,586 feet above mean sea level. It is the second highest mountain pass after Khardungla. The GREF teams keep it open but in the thick of winters it closes for weeks together. People told me that kindly pray before you leave or else Changla Baba will keep calling you back. The driver knew that I was a novice; he opened the glove box and handed over a pack of Parle-G and an aggarbatti to me. I thanked him as my “batti” was really band for obvious reasons.

The toughest part was yet to come which was down hill to Zingral. I could see the TCP but the road was multiple Zs, a zig-zag kind of landscape. On the first hairpin bend I saw a 3 ton in its grave. The officer sitting next to me narrated the story that it was a 3 Ton carrying CSD stores of a regiment which went down. He was part of the rescue mission. They told me that day every local Ladakhi they met was drunk. The reason was this vehicle was carrying about 150 cases of the most precious liquid on the other side of Changla. All bottles broke on impact and the liquid froze. The local fellows, after rescuing the men got busy sucking on ice and carried chunks of frozen liquor home. The drink was definitely on the rocks. In Jaisalmer one craved for ice, here one just needed rum and a glass.

It was close to dusk when we rolled into our battalion. The welcome board said “Second to None” with Snow Lions painted on its sides. I looked up and thanked the Lord and also said Changla Baba ki Jai in my mind.

I was cold, fatigued, disoriented and dizzy with a slight headache. I just wanted to have a hot cup of tea and I wasn’t disappointed as a jawan said “TASHI DELEG” & poured piping hot tea from a Chinese thermos in steel glasses. I rolled the glass vigorously in my hands. With one sip, I was already feeling better.

How many such trips would be needed to please Changla Baba? I wondered!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CHOICE OF ARMS

 

 

CHOICE OF ARMS

Choice of Arms (COA) used to be announced close to passing out in IMA. One could see three types of faces on hearing what has been allotted to you. Happy, sad and faces with no expression. Some people who opted for Ordinance landed up in Rajput Regiment, some could not opt for ASC because of their instructor’s pressure to join Gorkha Rifles.  Thambis got Sikh Regiment and Sikh gentlemen were allotted Madras Regiment. UP people got Naga regiment and J&K types were allotted Marathas. Most of us became “casualties” except for the super block kinds. (First twenty in the order of merit)
The Batty (Battalion Commander) used to announce the COA. GC 19964 you have been allotted Infantry, I almost swooned, with tears in my eyes that I have become causality. I was about to about turn when he announced Mechanised after a pause, I said what! I just could not believe my ears, as it was my first choice. The watery eyes changed to eyes glistening with pride eyes and then he added Recce and Support, 17th battalion. My expression turned to a frown that ye Recce and Support kaun sa keera hai. This was in June 1985.
When you come out of Batty’s office, you find GCs eagerly waiting, not bothered what they got but are more concerned on what the others have got. Quite a few of them gheroaed me asking Kya mila? Kya mila? I said Mech Inf. People almost fainted. Is sale ko Mechanised kaise mil gayi. The NRS (Nearest Railway Station) given to me was Jaisalmer. I did not even care to register it at that moment as the excitement was too much. The next thing was to have a beer, gum main ya khushi main.
I reached my room picked up an inland and wrote to Dad. All this while dreaming of the APCs (Armoured Personal Carriers) BTRs and the SCOTs, I had seen in Kapurthala cantonment. My motivation was Mech Units which used to come for equipment display to our school. I used to be awe struck when they told us these APCs float on water and used to show us a propeller at its rear end. I could never have asked for more from God.
Now to find someone from Recce and Support in IMA was like finding a needle in the haystack. I was lucky to find a Kote NCO of 17 Mech looking after my Karen Company Kote. I asked him ustad 17 Mech kahan hai, he said he cannot tell because of “sekorti” and equipment cannot be divulged as it is Top Secret. I asked a few Mech officers posted there, none could tell me what this recce and support battalion was all about.
Rumors were hot during that time. Posting locations, names of COs, characteristics of Brigade Commanders etc started floating around. There were certain fauji brats who knew various stations and hardships of those areas. So even if people were happy to get their choice, they were a little apprehensive of the areas they were going to serve. Well, in IMA who is bothered except taking the ANTIM PAG (final Step) which is the culmination of the POP (Passing out parade).
I was told that you are the luckiest person joining an elite battalion. One company is always on training in France. One started dreaming of the Eiffel Tower straight away. One company is equipped with helicopters for reconnaissance. Ones imagination ran wild that you are the next Rocky & Rambo combined. Pakistan you better watch out. Flying choppers whole night in my dreams used to leave me exhausted. The third company they said remains in India for training. I thought to myself as the unit is hush-hush, I will become a secret operative. I wanted to leave for Paris immediately but why have they told me to report to Jaisalmer. The excitement was too much to digest. Now, that once in a month beer became a weekly affair and that one fag a day became five. From Panama I graduated to Wills Kings. After all we were Mech People.
Be that as it may, COA got us busy drafting DO letters to the Commanding Officer as the first piece of military writing we were practicing. Life took a different turn that day when parents blessed their children and piped us. At least the civilian crowd like my parents had no idea what the difference was between Infantry and Ordinance. For them we were Officers of the Indian Army. We had made them proud beyond words.
All of us from different regiments took oath to abide by the Constitution of India and to go by land, sea or air to defend our motherland even at the peril of our lives. We had no choice left except to be an Officer and a Gentleman.
Our minds were blank as we did not know what was in store for us. Our thoughts were just conjectures. We didn’t know what a battalion looks like and what really happens in one. We all were happy folks, bubbling with josh and eager to join our outfits. All the training was in your heads, we were raw, unpolished and unaware of what lies ahead. We had joined one of the finest professions to be in service of our nation.

JAI HIND
© Noel Ellis

FIRST DAY IN LEH

FIRST DAY IN LEH

 I was posted to a new battalion on deputation based at Durbuk, (Tangtse) in 1990. It was in high altitude. Cold, frozen, snowing and icy was the impression in my mind. I was told it has a rear near Leh. “Rear” had a very different impression in my mind.

I was posted in Jaisalmer then and having measured the hot & sandy deserts by all means of transport available in the army including by foot I was looking forward to this change.

Zozila pass had not opened so I had to travel by air from Chandigarh to Leh. I was shoved into an IL-76. I saw this huge aircraft up close for the first time. It had been converted into a double Decker and I got a seat near the tailboard. Engines started and that whine was getting to scare me a little. We rolled off. With the first “jhatka” when the brakes are released I almost fell off. Soon the ears started getting blocked. I kept praying not realising I shall be jumping with parachutes from this plane later in life.

A 45 minute flight was an experience in itself. Then there was a thud, it was touchdown at Leh. We taxied and parked and as the tail door opened I saw a mountain of sand. I said to myself, hope I have landed at the right place. A very smart looking NCO with a red beret received me. We were off to a transit camp in a very shinny one tonner. We reached the site and I was taken inside a mess.

One had to bend to get in. Two odd bulbs were glowing in that room, flickering with the fluctuating voltage. They used to go dim and then flicker and then suddenly emit a bright light. I saw four people sitting on the table playing bridge. A few Gorkha looking people wearing torn sandow baniyans and combat pants were serving drinks and snacks. The bar man had a weird haircut with locks of curly hair over his ears. He was also chewing gum, unheard of in messes I suppose. I was not used to the “Pinja” way of life. I wished the crowd, they acknowledged as if saying one more “murga” has come and continued playing.

I was feeling cold in the month of April and watching those waiters in sleeveless baniyans I was getting the shivers. My feet were getting cold too and I was itching to go to the loo. The waiter guided me to a bathroom where I saw the Indian style thing. The door latch was a wire cable which one had to hook to a nail. No flush and I also noticed that the window glass was actually a transparent plastic sheet with which we used to cover maps. Water was freezing; sinks were there but without taps. Boy, I was in for adventure. I looked up to God, as I was closer to him by 11000 feet and asked him to bless me.

I came back and took a seat when someone said “saab ko drink lagao”. I said it’s too early, he said how you dare disobey the commanding officer. The waiter was already on my head with a whisky-pani. I asked for soda and he gave me a dirty look as if such things were never heard in these valleys. My mind floated back to Jaisalmer where Naik Padmasanan L our unit soda factory NCO could be hauled up for not filling adequate gas in the soda bottle.

I was a rum drinker so got it changed, took a swig and felt a little warm. In the mean time I found one waiter lighting up a contraption which I later came to know is called a “bukhari” (Kerosene heater). My feet were as cold as ice as the sky was overcast. The rum gave me a little pep but the bukhari boosted my morale. I was in summer uniform and constantly getting goose pimples which I think the mess Havildar noticed and from somewhere he brought an outer of a “coat parka”. I wanted to stand up and kiss him for his thoughtful gesture.

The barman was refilling the glasses without anyone even saying a word. I was already feeling little  tipsy by midday. The CO got up to take a leak & shook hands with me. He told me to enjoy my drink and left. Bridge continued. At 1.30 pm a person came with soup. It smelt good and I had a sip and it tasted really good. I asked the waiter what soup it is. He said “Haddi ka soup”. I was taken aback, “kis ki haddi ka soup”. Later I found out it was chicken soup.

Lunch was laid and I was feeling glad already. I ate well but the foursome had their “saunf” on the bridge table itself. We exchanged pleasantries during lunch. They told me to do as the Mess Havildar tells me to do. Then they got glued to their dealt hands with toothpicks stuck in their teeth.

I was taken to my room and given a sleeping bag. The mess Havildar said saab “aap sho jao”, dinner will be served in the room. I being from 17 Mech Recce and Support and that too Tracked was taken aback that in JA-SALE-MER even in midst of summers, we were told to report in suit and tie to the mess. Mess Havildar replied Sir; aap ka “climate” nahi hua hai is liye. Baki shaab log climate kar chuke hain. He meant to say that you have walked the earth more than you had to on the first day of acclimatisation in Leh, others are old hands. I thanked my stars and knocked off in deep slumber.

This was on first day of my posting to high the altitude desert. The next stage was at 13000 feet in the battalion after four days. The foursome also said “In the Land of Lama don’t become a Gamma”. What did they mean? I kept wondering!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

FIRE TO CEASEFIRE

FIRE TO CEASEFIRE

 

Ceasefire has been ordered in J&K. I don’t know will it be applicable to both sides as some forces are hell bent to destroy Kashmir and in turn India. Why a cease fire in the holy month of Ramadan only? Why not every month? Kashmir thus will stop suffering and so will the security forces.

I say why anyone should fire at all and then call for a cease fire. Every Kashmiri has a right to live in peace and so does every man and woman in uniform deployed there. Why pick up a gun or a stone in the first place? If every village decides to cease hostilities, where is the question of anyone dying? I hope militants will be sincere in not violating it for the sake of people of Kashmir. If this time is going to be used to trouble villagers to condescend to their demands to garner support and brain wash Kashmiri youth against India, then time is not ripe to give this leverage of ceasefire. In case they are going to cross the dotted line, then God help them.

Who doesn’t want peace? The security guy will be the first one to grab anything which will help to create a peaceful atmosphere. He is fed up of roaming day in and day out in unknown territory, checking unknown people, whose intentions behind those fake smiles are not known. He also wants to sit and enjoy a kahwah and wazwan. He also wants a “Sunday” to rest. They fire at him and stone pelt him. Then only the soldier retaliates. Who actually needs to cease fire then?

If our own convoys cannot pass safely in our own territory then it should be a matter of shame for the Kashmiri people. It looks pathetic that security forces have to place guns on top of our vehicles to kind of intimidate the militants warning them to dare attack us. The common citizen has to pay the price by getting inconvenienced, delayed, diverted and threatened of dire consequences if a convoy is harmed. The militant comes, does his job and melts away, Common man bears the brunt.

Let us then ceasefire like this on mutually agreed terms. No firing or militancy related activity in the months of January as it is the first month of the year. February, we have Valentine’s Day so everyone to give and take love. March is Holi and time for spring. So let us enjoy the fruits of nature. May and June are too hot and June also being the month of Ramadan, so let us forget our animosity. July is monsoon, time for a break. August is when India attained independence & Id time, so why fire then. September and October are months of Dussera-Diwali. November is my birthday, so please don’t fire. December again is time for Christmas so let peace prevail. Let this cycle repeat.

If peace is the requirement of the valley people, then it is they who need to create an atmosphere for peace. The security forces will take nine steps but you take one. Security forces cannot be only on the receiving end always. The forces will continue to keep their vigil and stick to their word. People of “jannat”, when will you understand this? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

NATAK NATAK EVERYWHERE

NATAK NATAK EVERYWHERE

 

India it seems is engrossed in the natak of Karnatak. Of course for the people of that state it matters as they choose their new mai-baaps. For me sitting in a remote and isolated place where if you run out of bread you run out of bread, it makes no difference.

Has any political party made any difference in my life? Yes, they only have strengthened my resolve to hate politics and politicians. Country may have progressed and that is evident as I am holding a cell phone. Roads and railway is improving but the people who govern this country are not. Scams and red tape have taken their toll. Now “modi-fication” is getting on my nerves.

The parliament must decide the following things. No cow will be killed, khatam baat. The only way a cow can die, if she dies in a road accident. In case she survives she will not be put to sleep but left to die on the road side. Then, the cow can die eating plastic. Of course it is ridiculous but we will not stop throwing plastic in the open, the poor mata will not stop munching on it. Change of taste after all. Further, the cow can die of old age. Yes, once she has lived her milk productivity age she will be left on the streets to fend for herself. In a few years time she will automatically die. A new brigade called the gau rakshak brigade will be used to replace the veterinary corps of the Indian Army.

The next item on the parliamentary agenda should be the dress to be worn by men and women. Sari and kurta pyjama is absolutely fine. The colour of the dress has to be “orange”. It is simple, sober, in fashion colour and I love it. Parachute cloth for the Army will be made of Khadi and dyed in vegetable green ink. Ladies can apply bindi only with pooja ashes. Vermillion may be adorned on ceremonial occasions only. In case you like to wear western dresses please go to the nearest country in the west.

Patanjali products will be consumed should be an act of the parliament. No bombastic names like Glaxo Smithkline or Procter and Gamble. Only desi items that are swad aur sehat se bharpoor, milawat se dur, will be allowed on our tables.

Once these guys have decided as to what we are going to eat. There would be no non-veg. All the bakra’s and the broilers will be left free. Hatya is out of question chahe vo gau ki ho ya bakariya ki. No egg trays for faujis even in lieu of meat. Fish too shall be banned as the smell of all machhi markets raises a stink. For Army jungle survival only patanjali noodles and vegetation can be eaten.

All gyms will have to be shut being a western concept. No pumping iron & no treadmills. Only yoga, on a handmade durrie extracted out of jute from farms made in small scale industries.

Then the parliamentarians should fix the petrol and diesel prices as anticipated in 2025. Why keep everyone in suspense. This will entail two things, the common man will not be able to run his bike and he will run or walk and stay fit. Free healthcare for all, isn’t it?

Jobs will not be an issue as we require thousands of masons and plumbers. After all we require 130 billion toilets and counting. Pakora makers would be India entrepreneurs’ and make case studies for Hayward business school like the dabbawalas.

Cooking gas is not an issue as pradhan mantri ujwala yojna has already burnt a hole in the gareeb ka pocket. They are using the gas cylinders to keep tokris of lassun because no one can afford a cylinder costing close to 900 bucks. They have got back to collecting firewood under sway-rozgar jungle kaato yojana. Mom is already used to smoke in her eyes since long and she finds food made on gas tasteless.

The parliament also needs to decide as to who will speak what, in what tone and tenor and who will publish what. Social media will only be used for forwarding godly and good morning messages. Chatting will be banned as the sarakri karamcharis now utilize offices to chat on their cell phones in air-conditioned environment. Earlier they used to do the same in parks after spreading the morning news papers after having read even the tender notices.

Only two channels will be allowed on air, LSTV and RSTV, rest all will be booked for sedition. No news debates, no barking & no shouting. Yes food channels if they are going to distribute food they make for the desh ke dalit-shoshit-vanchit-peerit would be made tax free channels.

All those who pay GST would be given a chance to visit a country of their choice except Bangkok, provided they convince twenty NRIs to vote for the PMs Party and send a few thousand dollars as chanda for party funds. All those who want to go to Italy will be given one way tickets.

Defence will be the only exception. All faujis will have to pay double the income tax in case they want free rations. If they want OROP then they will have to sacrifice the last basic pay drawn. ECHS will only be contributory, for health they will need to take health insurance from a private company and get treated in government hospitals only. Ex servicemen cannot write any columns or articles and all those who do it will be reinstated in service without salary in field till they attain nirvana.

Parliament also has to pledge that once elected they will only disrupt parliament. Bills passed would be at the peril of the common man. Ministers will move from ministry to ministry every session. This will ensure that all parliamentarians are fully trained to run any ministry irrespective whether the MP is capable to read or write or not. In case he has a criminal case he will be the law minister by default.

Be that as it may, I am looking forward to the next elections. Hope all this natak will be implemented when the new government is formed? Possible! I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

GO MAN GO

 

 

GO MAN GO

 

The mango season is in full swing at our place. Road sides are lined up with countless baskets of the local variety of Haphooz aka Alphonso. This year has been a bumper crop and the rates are falling fast. The variety which was 1800 a dozen has come down to 200. State of affairs is that people have stopped plucking them and are letting them fall off on their own.

I have two mango trees behind my house and none of them are Haphooz. It is a local variety called “pairi”. I haven’t tasted a tastier mango all my life. If you want to fall in love with mango then you have to taste this. I get into my Bermuda and sandow baniyan, chill the mangoes, “ghulao” them nicely, squeeze those two drops of white liquid out, close my eyes and suck the pulp out, then pop out the gootli, slurp it till its white. Then catch the rest of the skin between the teeth and pull till every drop has been squeezed out, finally bite the rear end and repeat. My desi way of mango eating.

I just can’t stand the Army way of eating a mango where you get a slice and have to scoop it with your spoon. Being the food member I used to wink at the Mess Havildar so that he doesn’t throw the goothli’s away.

My daughter has a different issue with mangoes. She can’t eat sweet ones and loves only “khatta” ones. Imagine going to a shop and saying “bhaiya khatte aam dena”, sounds ridiculous. If one eye automatically shuts with a wink for me and my wife, means that this mango is fit for my daughter.

My favourite is the mint-coriander-raw mango chutney. My wife is an expert but she has a problem that I need kebabs as accompaniments with it. To be frank it is her favourite too.

The harvest from our tree was close to 60 dozens. We kept about 20 odd pieces for ripening the rest we shared. Today the whole house smells of mangoes, even the milk emanates mango flavour.

Wife has already made a lot of aamchoor. She makes aam-panna daily. The other day I screwed up my panna by adding soda, it tasted like dish water. Imagine a panna glass, chilled and iced, with a twig of mint and some “boondi” and freshly chopped coriander floating on top. Add a tea spoon full of jal-jeera powder, guys it becomes a fabulous drink. Add a little crushed pepper and rock salt and sip it, you will attain “moksha”.

Aamras is stored in big dhakkan wala plastic buckets which come free with 10 kg washing powder. Achaars of all kinds, “khatta”, “meetha”, “pissay masala ka”, “sookha”, “khare masalewala” are all ready. My wife uses residue of the panna to make aap papar. If I start spreading it I think it will cover the whole house. Our pantry is full of “martabaans” of all shapes and sizes, ufff, too much of mango.

I love dal-chawal with pappad and mango achar. The tangier the better it is. My favourite is the sookha aam ka achar with lots of masala sticking to it. Once I have finished the dal then I take time to lick the plate clean with the achar ka goothli with lots of hair. Pure desi tariqa of cleaning your plate!

I tell my wife to put extra masala in pickles. Reason is that after the pieces of pickle have been polished off, the concentrated achari masala at the bottom of the martbaan is the best. I love to eat nice crisp deep fried matthi’s with this achar ka masala along with a hot cup of tea. The names achari baingan, achari karela and achari meat are already salivating my mouth. Hope my wife reads this.

These days one has to be very careful while going under the mango trees. I don’t take chances as I may become the second Newton with one ripe mango falling on my head. It is quite a scary noise at night as it first falls on to the roof and then rolls on it, till it falls down to the ground with a solid thud.

Oh Yes! Homemade mango ice cream and kulfi are doing the rounds too. Wife has thrown all my non-veg stored in the freezers to make way for the icy delights. I would suggest to you to try a green mango ice cream with chillies. It is out of the world. Decorate your glass with a slit green chilli and a slice of raw mango, you will love it. Try making a mango mary, the bloody thing will taste good.

Do you guys remember when that typical achar smell used to hit your nostrils and went up your brain while travelling in a train when someone opened their tiffin? I could beg for it from anyone. That unforgettable achari smell was just enchanting, triggering hunger in many.

My personal favourites though are the “langra” and “dusseri” which I miss in this part of the country. Very soon the rains are going to come and all this mango will be used to remember achhe din. All those who love this fruit are most welcome to visit us. Who will be the first one? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

CONFESSIONS OF SINS BY PERPETUAL LIARS

 

 

CONFESSIONS OF SINS BY PERPETUAL LIARS

 

It is so easy to confess after you have sinned and then wash away your guilt. It is like going to the confession box and the pastor tells you to say ten Hail Mary’s. You come out as if you have now put the burden of all your “confessed sins” on the pastor. Pastor is a holy man, he speaks to God and he will further transfer confessions of the whole congregation to the Almighty. You get back to commit more sins. Though you remember what Pastor said not to repeat it, but “adat se majboor” you do it again. This time the pastor will increase the Hail Mary’s. What else can he do? Crime still remains.

There is another way to do it I suppose and that is to take a dip in the Holy Ganges. The whole life one has sinned and now one decides, after a particular age that enough is enough. Now let me go to all holy shrines and ask for forgiveness and beg pardon for my sins. With so many Gods, Goddesses I will finally get relieved from my earthly deeds. At the end of the day we take a bath, light an aggarbatti and lamp. Sing our Arti and that’s it. All wrongs of the day turn right for a peaceful sleep. We Indians do so much of pooja then why is there so much of crime.

Pakistan is also a sinner of kinds. The damage of their sins has been bleeding India with a thousand cuts. You don’t want to trust us, fine, no worries. You don’t want us to assist you in improving things, your look out friend. You want to eliminate terrorists from your soil but will support them to destroy us; I like this idea, should we reciprocate? You started all wars and say you never started them. The whole world knows it, isn’t it a matter of shame? You want India to bend and show a large heart, we do it and you do Kargil. We grant you MFN status you don’t; it doesn’t make an iota of difference to us. Who teaches hatred against India? Don’t tell me we are sending people to your side to teach you to hate India.

We fire across the LoC, you don’t, right! You allege we kill people in Kashmir but who sends butchers this side? You can threaten us with nuclear war, well go ahead. Why do you want to be obliterated from the world map? If you don’t want to progress at least stop putting spokes in our progress. Don’t worry dear Pakistan; Prime Minister of your own country is now in the confession box and confessing all sins. The whole world already knows what your real character is.

I once had a chance to write a book review on “In the Line of Fire” by General Parvez Musharaf. It is his life story with special mention of Kargil. On the first read itself I was convinced that the General was lying and lying blatantly about Kargil. I was told to replace the word “lie”, with the word “untruth” in my review. Well, I could not lie to myself and left it as it is. Till date I have not been able to differentiate between the two words. Who did Kargil and why is all available on you tube as his own confessions. Why were the Lashkar and Taliban his friends and why he exploited them against India are no secrets anymore? He confessed too late as lot of damage has already been done.

On deeply analyzing what could be the reasons he told such “untruths” about Kargil war was that after a few years’ people would forget Kargil. The present and may be the next generation would no more be walking this earth in a couple of years. Then to find out the exact history of that war, his book would be quoted as Gospel. There would be no one to deny it. Indian version will never be accepted by Pak.

Be that as it may. Now why is Nawaz Sharief confessing to his sins or for that matter disclosing sins of Pakistan to the world? From 1947-48 till date whatever they have done to India in terms of war, limited war, proxy war, militancy, terrorism, Kargil, Mumbai and what have you, is now proven beyond doubt. Confessions of a Prime Minister should be evidence to set things right. What action needs to be taken against them? Have the panama leaks helped India? Let us see what else this Sharief- badmash confesses to.

Today, Pakistan is kind of headless. Their system is on dialysis. All their infectious blood passes through the Army channels and half cleansed is put back into the body. Their de-facto control remains in their Army HQs who are tolerating this “democratic sin” of virtually no government. ISI remains the nervous system, need not be confessed. The Army stands by, watching all developments waiting to take over. Democracy is a distant dream for Pak is my honest confession.

Pak continues to “sin” against India. They keep confessing to their sins but don’t stop sinning. With admissions by their PM of their lies, it may heal one wound of India but how will we stop them hurting the nine hundred and ninety nine cuts remaining, which they don’t allow to heal? I wonder!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

FISHING TRIPS TO KANJALI

FISHING TRIPS TO KANJALI

River fish was my staple diet as a kid. That too caught fresh from Kanjali by none other than my Dad. My favourite was fried fish and sweet milk for dinner. All the aunties and uncles used to do hawww! They believed that my skin would turn white at places. It was considered to be more of a curse I suppose. In Punjabi they used to say that I would turn into “Dab-Kharabba” (spotted or patched in black and white). Well, I am still short, dark and handsome for some.

If Dad was in a happy mood, meant he is going fishing. On happy days he could pardon you for murder “Sare khoon maaf”. His fishermen’s circle used to range from professional anglers, desi fishermen, village folk, kabari’s (ragpickers) etc. Depending on the inputs from these people, he used to prepare his bait for the catch. “Gandoya” (earthworms) & Atta (flour) were the two commonest baits. Special ones used to be Jhinga (prawns), live fish, guts of table birds, frogs etc. He also was a collector of recipes of fish baits. Recipe ingredients were mashed into clay balls and thrown weeks in advance for fish to congregate at his favourite spot. Roasting and toasting various condiments used to send aromas for miles. Imagine what must be happening to the fish.

He never used a fibre glass or synthetic rods. He preferred the pure bamboo ones which used to be lightly roasted and oiled with “Alsi ka tel” (Flax seed oil) for days together to get that “latchak” (flexibility) to perfection. These bamboo rods were fetched from as far as Barielly in UP. I still have his collection of hooks, lines and sinkers. The variety is unbelievable. From a six inch hook to a 3 mm almost invisible hook. The knots which he has tied on lines, I fail to unknot them till today.

Kanjali River was an off shoot of Beas River; actually it is a flood water drain to divert excess water which passes through Kapurthala and Kartarpur. It was fondly called a “Bein” (rivulet). Only licensed fishermen could catch fish in it. In 1962 Dad had an all India angling licence. We learnt this after he passed away when I saw his licence for the first time.

There was a check dam which Maharaja Jagjit Singh of Kapurthala had made on the bein. The Royal boats, sculls and canoes later became our school property and boat club. Initially, our school used to have river swimming, rowing and diving competitions there.

I was not that patient kind to wait for a fish to get hooked. I used to run from uncle to uncle who used to have one on the line and dad used to scold me that I will disturb the fish. Sitting quietly for hours together as a boy was not my cup of tea. Some “khurafat” had to be done. While we used to be standing on the narrow Kanjali bridge, Dad would be concentrating about fifteen meters below where the fish used to be. I used to be standing alongside counting trucks passing by, which used to almost kiss your bums. I used to drop one chappal into the water. Dad used to fret and fume and finally hook out my floating hawai chappal as I won’t stop crying.

If on Saturdays he used to get “keema” (mince) from the market it was a hint that tomorrow is picnic. Mom would make “keema-pooris”. After dinner, all fishing equipment used to be displayed in the drawing room. Small rods with little hooks to keep me, mom and brother amused catching fingerlings used to be made. We all used to hang on to dear lives on our orange coloured Lamby. Brother cramped in front, Mom and dad on the seats, I on the stepney. The rods used to be laid on the foot rest on the right with a blue plastic bucket tied to the seat handle dangling alongside. That is how the Ellis’ used to travel.

The bucket used to carry a frying pan, a bottle of sarson oil, a masaladani (Condiment box), and a durrie besides lunch. Our duty on reaching the spot used to be to run and get a few bricks to fabricate a make shift choolah, then to collect firewood for freshly caught fish which were fried as snacks with beer for dad. There was a “baraf ki taal” (ice shop) enroute from where we used to collect ice for chilling beer and water. Beer bottles also used to be strung and lowered in the river to chill if ice was not available. Mom, within minutes used to dish out the crispiest fish. Mooli, gajar and shalgam for salad used to be pulled out fresh from the fields. After lunch it used to be “Lassi” (butter milk) sessions courtesy Kundan Singh, the boat club in charge.

Dad was very superstitious and used cuss words often. A particular person he used hate, if he met him on his way to Kanjali he used to abandon his plan of fishing that day. Then while casting his line in case it used to get stuck in the tree above or the hook used to get stuck in some piece of his clothing or overshoot or undershoot the precise point he had in mind then Saali, ullu ki patthi could be heard from miles.

Often we used to take a canoe or a paddle boat for a spin. We used row to the other bank where the weaver birds used to nest. It used to be teeming with birds of all kinds. We used to hide in the over hangs, chase swimming snakes, drop messages in bottles etc. One never wanted to return home in the evening. We used to come back tanned and dead tired. The other treat we used to look forward to that day used to be “dhabe ki daal and tandoori rotis”, as mom was given a night off. At the end of the day there used to be a prayer to thank God for all the bounties he had provided.

I loved to go on bi-cycle with dad to Kanjali. How many times I did susu sitting on the cycle carrier behind him, I don’t remember. As soon as I told him that pressure is high he used to give a code word “sprinkle”. This meant that one could turn around and do the job making zig-zag patterns on the road. Why I used to accompany dad was actually to listen to so many stories and tales and the way he used to narrate them. He used to do the same at night too but the feeling to listen to them over and over again is inexplicable. Sometimes he used to carry his air gun and if partridges posed on the road they used to be assured a place in the bag. If he did not get fish, then doves cooing on the telephone wires were dinner. If that too didn’t work out then egg curry was assured. Good old days they were.

Can we turn back in time? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

OUR DEER PINKY

 

 

OUR DEER PINKY

It was a cold wintry evening when two people clad in white dhoti, kurta & Loi’s (shawls) came to our house in Sainik School, Kapurthala. On enquiring they said they were parents of Bishnoi of Sarojini House of which Dad was the house master. They were carrying something in their lap which was very fidgety. They requested for old news papers. A very unusual request it was. As they stood up to greet dad, this twitchy bundle jumped out of their lap. It was a small, dainty, wet nosed brown baby deer (Chinkara).

We all were startled for a moment. They said that having heard of your love for animals Ellis Saab, we present to you “PINKY” as a token of love and respect for teaching our children. I saw my Dads eyes getting moist for the first time. In those days it was not banned. On asking what you feed it, they gave the details of how to feed it with a bottle and otherwise it would graze the lawn grass. In case some wheat can be made available it could be palm fed.

Dad took the leash and took her to the adjacent room as they left. We had spread many news papers for the droppings. The story was that this fawn was orphaned as the mother was shot by some people. It was raised by the Bishnoi’s and now they had found a suitable home for it.

It was extremely difficult to control the inquisitiveness of our dogs. Their barks was making pinky panicky. Curiosity amongst Ellis’ was also at its pinnacle. This little darling had done a 7 hour journey by bus from Hanumangarh to Kapurthala. It must be tired and disillusioned. We tiptoed into her room, I with a bottle of milk, mom with a fistful of wheat followed by brother with some grass and father to oversee things.

In came Coco, our Tibetan Apso, then all hell broke loose. She panicked and darted through all of us and the main door and escaped into the darkness. Dad told us that we have to get pinky back at any cost. It was dark and the colony was a jungle in itself. Pinky had evaporated into thin air. The front yard, the back yard, the dhobi ghat, everywhere, we ran helter-skelter looking for her but no luck.

I and my brother went on a search mission. It was close to midnight in that freezing cold of Punjab & we were quite dejected. As we were combing the area we reached the chota swimming pool. Stories of various “bhoots-prets” and deadly cobras were running parallel in our minds when my brother& I heard jingle of bells tied in her neck. In pitch darkness with fog also creeping in, we saw two eyes glistened & staring at us. The first reaction was to bolt as it could be a bhoot. We spotted her & breathed a sigh of relief. Dad was anxious, mom was crying and we were white faced, cold, damp with running noses. I put a blanket on her as she dozed off. What a first night it was!

There used to be a competition between me and my brother who will feed her. Filling milk in a beer bottle and attaching feeding nipples was fun. Soon, Pinky started considering me as her mother. She used to crave for milk thrice a day. Dot at the precise hour she used to give her grunts. I used to call her back in the same tone.

Our dogs got used to her and pinky to the house. Cats started to cuddle with her. She was so friendly that we freed her. Within minutes she jumped the wall and was hopping and skipping merrily. All of us were afraid that the strays will kill her, well; they were no match to her speed. Once all the hostellers “gheraoed” her in a circle, she just took off & jumped over their heads. Her typical “deer jumps” on all fours together were a treat to watch.

She started accompanying dad to the cricket field and used to stand next to him where the Umpire stands. Once she got hit by a straight drive and collapsed on the pitch with all four legs stretched & the tongue hanging out, stiff as stiff could be. The batsman ran away fearing the wrath of Dad. She closed her eyes and we thought we have lost her. For 10 minutes we all were in tears. Then suddenly she sprung up and bolted away. Phew!

I had joined NDA and came back on my first term break. Dad was sitting on his haunches and hoeing his garden bed. I was explaining to him the “ragra” and in particular the front roll. I don’t know what came to pinky’s mind, she came charging and butted dad on his bums with her head. Dad did a beautiful somersault and I said now you know dad.

As time went by she started loving music and the school band playing. She used to stand with the band leader and walk along the march past of the school parade. She became the school mascot.

One day pinky was nowhere to be seen. There was panic and a sense of loss as a story was afloat that someone had killed her. Fourth day, while dad was on his angling trip a “Kabari” (rag picker) who used to come and collect small fish gave an input that she has been seen in the cantonment. Dad wound up and came rushing five kilometres from Kanjali River. She was not there but dad found her droppings. On a lot of pleading someone told that she had been sold to a “Kasai” (butcher). Dad rushed to find that “kasai” who just won’t admit. With folded hands and 400 rupees did he take him to the shed where she had been confined to. She would have been butchered the next day. Four days without water and food she was a wreck. She couldn’t even stand on all fours. People who had caught her had bruised her very badly. Dad left his cycle as mortgage and took a rickshaw to get her home. We were delighted to see her alive.

Within days she was frolicking around as usual. She lived with us for 10 years and one fine day we found her dead in the wheat fields. Probably she ate too much of insecticide which had been sprayed on the crop. It was a sad day. Her grave is still there behind our house 12-A.

Thank you for being part of our lives PINKY we all still remember you fondly and miss you. Can we relive those good old days again? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

SMALL MODIFICATIONS

 

 

SMALL MODIFICATIONS

 

Yesterday I was looking at the plight of helicopter passengers. It was a lovely looking blue and white bird with skids. I was told the passengers were 70 + alighting to attend a wedding. It meant a few things that these people were VVIPs, super rich, super influential, overall, banda pahuncha hua hai. This was confirmed by the class of vehicles which had come to pick them up. However, when it came to getting down from the chopper I pitied them. Both of them were too short.

The gentleman was the first one to get down but struggled to find the ground, the lady’s plight was even worse. The pilot and an assistant tried to hold her hand and finally she had to be baby carried. Haath main purse bhi tha bhai. They needed a step in between.

This reminded me of the good old days of the army when the ladies could never sit in the front seat of Jeeps & Jongas. I think that still continues. Getting inside a Jeep after folding the front seat was an obstacle course in itself. Sitting on the mudguards with cramped feet ensured that in case you were wearing a sari for a party, it would be crushed beyond the lady’s liking. We had to keep the pink room of the mess ready for them to re-arrange their costumes.

Jonga’s could carry four ladies comfortably but six damsels had to be stuffed in due to fauji constraints like non-availability of light vehicles, COs fleet, CMP restrictions, Dry day chits et al. Then Gypsy’s came in. The biggest challenge for ladies used to be to get in from the rear of the vehicle in a sari without exposing their lovely legs. Sometimes the petticoats used to get caught in the towing hook. Someone in the Army decided to go in for a “step”, which used to be welded to the frame in the rear. I wish the aviation people also get their choppers modified. Just send the helicopter to any Army workshop; modification would be a two minutes job.

This reminds me that my mom too was very short. Mom and Dad’s height difference was more than one and a half feet. One day she had gone to the market walking. I had just been presented with a new cycle which meant that after games in the evening and before the study period one went around the town to show off. Mom caught me in the market and told me to take her home. Well it would have saved her close to Rs 3.50/- depending on the ability to bargain with the rickshaw-wala.

I tried several times but to no avail as there was too much of rush for mom to mount the bike. So we walked almost half way on the “Thandi Sarak” as it used to be known in Kapurthala, till we reached the LIC office. The foot path had been newly cemented, so there was a berm about 6-8 inches high. I was confident mom will be able to climb on the carrier. Well I sat on the seat with the right foot on the pedal to get the initial momentum. Mom climbed on the sixth attempt. The sabzi jhola was hung on the handle. Then something happened. I just couldn’t balance my cycle. The handle got stuck due to the vegetable bag and we were spread on all fours on the road.

Both of us looked left and right, thank God people were far away. I asked mom, you hold the Thaila and sit. She said she couldn’t do both. Now what to do was the question. Well I made a valiant attempt once again but failed. One of our uncles was watching all this tamasha and came to our rescue. He held the carrier of the bike while I got ready to take off. Mom sat behind, she was handed over the bag and then uncle gave a shove to the cycle. Off we went.

It was dusk and now we were approaching home. We turned in from Puri uncle’s house. I asked mom how will you get down, she said good question, now I didn’t know what to do. I needed help from someone to hold the bike. Mom said mujhe mat girana and I knew without help, girana hi parega. Well, I did what the pilots do. I went on a circuit. Went around all the row of houses & hostels and came back for landing again, all this while preparing mom for impact. Mom threw the sabzi-bag close to our house. What all rolled out from that? Dad collected the remnants next morning.

Now on my final approach, luckily Dad had seen us going past so he came and stood on the side of the road. I shouted to dad please hold the bike, I slowed down as much as I could and dad with his legs stretched was going to get hold of the bikes handle. Bang, I pushed dad. Dad went into the hedge and I went on paddling. One more “chakker” and this time dad was well prepared. Younger brother had brought a stool. Dad was a strong man & instead holding us from the front he caught hold of the bike carrier from the rear. Brother placed the stool for mom to alight as I jumped and kept both feet on the ground. Our Maharani of Kapurthala alighted from her stage carriage; chauffeured by yours truly on a blue and white Phillips bicycle.

Can Chopper pilots also carry a stool with them for short people? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

POTS & PETS

POTS & PETS

 

The response I get on photos of my garden is tremendous. In the bargain I get to hear a lot of stories of my Dad who was a die hard gardening enthusiast. If I talk about chrysanthemums’, he had every variety, colour and variant of the flower.  The assortment of crotons and the array of fruits in our house was mind blowing.  Rajnigandha (tuberose) and Narcissus (Nargis) were his favourite. That sweet scent still lingers in my memory. Geranium was another of his darlings. He only could manage his three hundred pots and numerous flower beds. I rekindled this hobby after ages and it gives me so much of solace. Hibiscus (Gudhal) is my weakness.

We were born and brought up in a house surrounded with fruit trees. Cheeku, Malta, Guava, Custard Apple, Kagzi Nimbu, Grapes, Gal-Gal, Dhurunj (a huge citrus fruit akin to Chakotra), Peach, Papaya, Louqaat, Banana, Mango, Faalsa, Ber besides the wide variety of vegetables which were organically grown in our kitchen garden. Shakarkandi (sweet potato) one used to love digging out.

Our house was a mini zoo too. Dogs, cats, Australian pigeons, partridges, hens like the Red Rhodes and black “desi” ones. He didn’t like the white leghorns. A speaking Parrot called “Mithoo”, Angora rabbits etc used to be all around the house. Mom used to handle all their tantrums from feeding them to looking after the sick and the infirm. Watching the chicks hatch from eggs was amazing. From those small little cracks in the eggs till they emerged out of their shells, I have seen it all. Hatching goose eggs under a hen was also done at my place. The dog-cat team fighting a cobra in the courtyard, I have witnessed that intense fight. The dog engaged the cobra from the front and the cat tore it to smithereens from the rear. Chickens riding cats and bitches feeding kittens were not uncommon.

Twenty odd hens meant fifteen odd eggs a day. The song “ande hi ande khana-meri jaan meri jaan” was apt. Mint, coriander and onions were home grown, so making a ten egg omelette was no big shake. The day cocks fought amongst each other or cock-a-doodle-doed in the afternoon disturbing Dad’s siesta, it was assured a place on the dining table the same evening.

We lived in a colony of a school with hostellers living very close by. Boys were always trying to steal fruits. Dad used to be way ahead of Sherlock Holmes. I remember, Mom used to delicately tie paper envelopes around the grape bunches to save them from the birds. She never realised that it became easier for boys to identify their targets. Fed up with the losses, one fine day dad collected hornets and wasps and placed them inside those envelopes. He caught the culprits red handed literally.

One day I found him setting up his air gun near the papaya tree after dusk. We knew dad was up to something. He connected the trigger to one end of the rope and the other end to his bed side. He was a light sleeper. Moment he heard footsteps of the boys scaling the wall to pluck the fruit “bang” went the airgun. It was not loaded with a “Charra” (Pellet). One only heard thuds and screams as boys fell over each other and got bruises and cuts. Next day, all the culprits were lined up and caned, which used to be the norm in good old days.

All injured bird and animals were brought to our house for treatment. Haldi and Mirchi in pure Sarson oil were used for fractures. I remember mom used to peeso a tablet called “Sulphadiazine” and another one called “APC” if they had fever or infections. All those who could not fly away or be released used to become our pets. We had Herons, Owls even Maynah’s for company many times.

We kids were also crazy. Moment we came to know that there are puppies somewhere; we used to bring them home with their mother. Once we brought two Alsatian looking puppies. One of our family friends came to our place and fell in love with them and took them along thinking they would turn out to be German Shepherds. Their daughter confirmed from me ten times and I told her a white lie about the breed. They grew up to be such junglee pie dogs. We had a hearty laugh when we met years later.

Once, mom got fed up of the cat, as every day she used to polish off milk. Dad was ordered to leave her far away never to return. The cat and her kittens were huddled up in a gunny bag. Dad on his ladies cycle left them between villages Lakhan Kalan and Hamira about 15 kms away. Two days mom was erratic. Dad, I and my brother were fired left right and centre for anything and everything. She loved the cat like hell and was missing her. On the seventh day kitty was back sans the kittens. All of us just didn’t react except mom who ran to the kitchen for a bowl of milk. The cat was starved for sure. Thereafter cats were never even scolded in the house men were.

It is good to have pots & pets but in manageable numbers. They pose restrictions as they can’t be left unattended. We can’t keep pets in the colony we stay in but I fulfil my urges through the stray cats and dogs. I am keenly watching pair of Kingfisher’s (Mallya) making their nest. There is a water crisis here too. I don’t know how long I will be able to carry on this hobby of gardening without adequate water. I am waiting for the rains to come desperately. Here, monsoons start in the first week of May. Will the rain Gods bless us on time? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

 © Noel Ellis

THE ART OF READING

THE ART OF READING

There was a time when a novel in my hand was compulsory. Be it travel, Military exercises or deployment on the borders. Summer holidays or Christmas time, a book had always been my partner. The only time my wife could get a window seat on a train used to be when I used to dig into my book. Then there was no looking back till I finished it. Ballet of a belle did exactly that to me.

In school, on each library card one could borrow two books. I remember the rule, we had to return them in 14 days and there after fine used to be 10 paise per day. I could never afford to be late. My librarian auntie used to be generous enough to issue me books from the new editions, a rare privilege.

Every day without fail, dot at 3pm before Inderjeet our library assistant used to open the door of the Durbar hall of the Jagjit Palace of the Maharaja of Kapurthala, which used to house our library, yours truly used to waiting for him. Half a novel used to be finished in that one hour of library time. In winters, tucked into your Rajai (quilt) with your head covered due to the freezing cold in Punjab the “silsila” of reading continued. Started with Enid Blyton, Nick Carter, James Hadley Chase, graduated to Harold Robbins, Ayn Rand, Ludlum and the works.

This practice continued till I joined my unit. While returning from leave at Jalandhar railway station there was one AH wheeler book stall which was my favourite haunt. Choice there was limited in terms of authors. The next long halt used to be at Ambala Cantt and then at Old Delhi to surf book stalls. Over the years the stall owners used to recognise me and recommend books keeping my taste of reading in mind.

My unit had a great tradition to build a library. One had to get one book on return from annual leave. Our staff college reference library also grew leaps and bounds as every year we were sending one officer. Five officers from one unit, in one go was a record of sorts. I too followed suit later.

Be that as it may, once I started studying for Staff College this art of reading novels slowly shifted focus to reading subjects related to the military. I loved reading but I hated reading Military history. Part B, I cleared in four attempts and Part D in five. Every two years the Military Campaign and personality changed you can imagine from Von Rundstedt to Gaip, Burma campaign to Falkland War, to Rommel to the Yom Kippur war, form Sun Tzu to Campaign in Malaya, to Montgomery, to the North African campaign, I read them all as I had no choice.

Now, after ages I picked up a novel written by my course mate and jiggery Rahul Tushar, “The Ballet of a Belle”. First thing that came to mind, Rahul writing a novel is not possible. Rahul and I did staff college together. Knowing him and his flair for gazals it was difficult to fathom that he is a fiction writer.

I must thank Rahul for rekindling the passion of good old days of yore. I still prefer to read a book rather than on the computer screen. It got delivered form Amazon but I didn’t pick it up for three days. Till the weekend there was a dilemma should I or shouldn’t. Finally, I picked it up and read the preface and I saw “to my mereee”. I knew her too. Then I could not resist starting it. The fear within me was will I be able to finish it, I was a little uncertain, as it has been almost two decades since I picked up any novel.

Yesterday being a holiday I started to read. Within minutes I was guzzling page after page. My daughter was quite surprised that I hadn’t touched the mobiles at all. My speed of reading was not the way I used be. It picked up gradually as the plot thickened. I skipped my afternoon siesta. I retired early after dinner to continue reading. At 1030 pm daughter came to check whether papa was asleep, papa was not. She was astonished that I had read past midway by then. In the morning instead of reading the news paper on my thrown it was this book. I read it in the lunch break as it stuck to me like glue. Now it’s the climax chapter which is left and I shall finish it with my evening cup of tea.

Rahul my friend it is not easy to write and it is definitely difficult to get into such minute details of places, names and things. The ease with which you describe villages in the valley and places in Jammu was as if you have visited them yourself. The cocktails you talk about even Shirley won’t know. The businesses you speak of are not simple ones; the corporate life you touch upon must have touched you personally somewhere. I can see the research; the hard work the toil to bring this girl Arti to life. The flow and language is so smooth that her transition from a village belle to a corporate honcho seems as if the years in between never existed. The way you have gone about weaving each bead and connecting the dots as if you are related to this girl. Marvellous my friend, simply kept me spellbound. I don’t know if I batted an eyelid while reading.

Rahul, keep enthralling us, keep us mesmerised, keep enchanting us and keep us captivated. Your charming ways of writing has bloomed. The bait you cast has hooked us all. God Bless you & thank you for re-igniting within me the passion to read once again. Dasvidaniya (till we read again). How soon will it be? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

PS : The book is available on Amazon for 350/-.

THE LAWYER HIS TYPIST AND THE JUDGE

THE LAWYER HIS TYPIST AND THE JUDGE

 

It does take a lot of time and effort to prove a criminal guilty in India. Assa Ram’s conviction at Jodhpur is just a case in point. From the preliminary investigation to the verdict, it is such a long drawn process. The twist in the story comes in when very reputed and senior lawyers get sucked in. Voluntarily or otherwise, pro-bono or not, the cat and mouse game begins. To pick holes and to plug them becomes an interesting contest of oratory skills. In all this we have a referee who interprets the law as a judge, who waits for the cats to finish fighting over a piece of bread and finally hit his mallet to declare which side wins.

Since I have visited Jodhpur court, I was fascinated by the scene of the numerous “Munshi’s” (typist)” there. If you want to see how a typewriter looks like then either go to a museum or go to a court. Computers have replaced those machines now but the charm of listening to the keys striking the paper with multiple layers of carbon used to be music to the ears, the rat-a-tat, the quick adjustments of the roller, the winding of the ribbon spool, separating the stuck keys were a treat to watch.

Today it is the keyboard. I noticed that on most of them the alphabets, numbers and special characters are all invisible. The keyboards have been so overused that even the space bar shines like silver.

I am awestruck at the speed with which these guys type. They have a speed of more than 150 words per minute. You need that electrifying speed to key in cases. There is rarely any spelling or grammatical mistake. This I am talking of the English typing. Vernacular typing may be a word or two slower. A dot matrix printer would take longer to print than would take a Munshi to type. They are the nerve centre of any court and a force multiplier for any lawyer.

As you enter the court premises’ you will find people with black cloaks and black suits all over. I don’t understand if there are so many lawyers why cases dangle so long. They have specialisations like divorce lawyers, land & property specialists, criminal lawyers etc etc. There I found a lot of these tout kind of people hanging around. Moment you enter he will ask you your issue and take you to the perfect place. A typical Munshi with a typewriter on a “takhat”, sitting on chair, a make shift cupboard to his side, a wooden bench for you to sit, papers strewn all over are a common sight. You would be lucky if they have a tin roof on top otherwise it would be under a tree. I have never understood why they can’t have proper offices.

The record of stamp papers he issues is kept meticulously. Your name and your father’s name is the only thing that matters. Some things are done on a hundred rupees one, the price varies from state to state. Even the court rooms are dingy. Most of the times the judge refuses to see your face but sometimes he does. He summons you, looks at you and asks you your name and date of birth, turns that bunch of papers up and down, glances back at you with piercing eyes and signs the documents. You breathe a sigh of relief that thank God you have not been put in jail for registering your own house.

Be that as it may, court cases linger on far too long. Fast track courts can beat normal courts. The long list of witnesses is never ending. Some die, some are killed, some evaporate from the scenes and some backtrack from their words. The easiest thing is to say that they said so under duress and were made to forcefully confess. The investigative agencies do a shoddy job which gives a chance to these black coats to twist the case. The result is even if one judge pronounces a person guilty; the higher court judge finds no evidence worthwhile to prosecute the criminal.

If this is how the “mandi of the judicial process”, the law, the lawyer, his typist & his typewriter are going to churn out tons of “raddi” then God help us. From the commitment of crime to an affidavit on a stamp paper, from an FIR to summons, from a hearing to a judgement, from one court to another court we go around in circles. The laws keep becoming stricter but the crime and the criminal are there to stay. The speed of the typist doesn’t matter after all cases are decided on the skills of a lawyer. The judge keeps waiting to deliver justice & to finally make his kill. How can we reduce justice delivery time? I wonder!!!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

IMPEACHMENT OF OUR PILLARS

I saw Mr Kapil Sibal speaking to the press in the most apologetic manner the other day. He was briefing the press as they were about to initiate the process to impeach the Chief Justice of India. Suddenly they find him to be a useless fellow. I could not stand it for more than thirty seconds and switched off the TV.

I picked up the dictionary to understand this word impeach and other words starting with IM. It means to accuse, bring to court, indict, prosecute, charge and put to trail someone. I was amazed that out of all the people they found the head of our judicial system of which all the Sibal’s, Manu Singhvi’s, Manish Tiwari’s, Salman Khurshid’s and Chidambrams are part and parcel of.

If we don’t trust the highest judicial office then who shall we trust? There is a system to appoint a person for this office of which the opposition is a member. How can CJI suddenly become immoral? If they want that the only institution which is doing its job impeccably to become immobile then there is something basically wrong. It is an immodest act by the opposition. The impact will impair the judicial system for sure. The idea is to be an impediment in the normal working procedures. They act like an imp. Impudicity is lack of modesty which it taking its toll on our system. The impulse to show the other person down reflects the impurity of thoughts.  The government of the day appears to be impuissant-unable to take effective action, kind of powerless to tame these free roaming impalas called the opposition parties.

To create an imbalance in an established system is the aim of opposition. I find more of imbecility rather than reason. Where have these people imbibed such a spirit and how such notions have got imbedded in their minds that a few lawyers are trying to undermine the judicial system of this country. I am no lawyer nor do I know much of law but I am not a dodo either that I don’t understand what is going on and why.

The present government is already at logger heads with all such parties and how to get out of this imbroglio is the moot question. The opposition will do all that it can to derail the smooth functioning of the government. The way the opposition imbrues (stains) the ruling party is what is intriguing or is it to add a little imli (spice) to life in the already dull & non functional parliament.

The congress is imitating what its opposition did to them like a “Nakalchi Bandar”. If they could not function they would not let this government to function. It appears to me a little immature as they drag such high offices into politics. The tradition of fingering the opposition is from times immemorial which they want to continue.

Had everything been so immaculate, this country would have been a golden bird by now. The black, white and shades of grey are all part of this political and judicial system. The long time which the judiciary takes to bring the culprits to book causes immeasurable pain to many definitely.

How to break this impasse also needs to be worked out. The seeds of jealousy which are implanted in the heads of politicians are difficult to remove. Due to this implicit innuendo our system is bound to implode. I think the government of the day has now got immune to this mudslinging. They have reconciled with this immutable–unchanging trend that has been set. Political disaster is imminent. Let us not confine this to the centre; it is happening all over the states too.

Why do we have to be impenitent or unapologetic for our actions? It is high time that we gradually move towards a system where the government and the opposition work in sync. The opposition today appears to be imperceptive, lacking perception. They only think about their narrow gains. They are impercipient- failing to perceive something which might harm the country in the long run thus imperilling the stability with their imperious- arrogant and domineering behaviour. I am sounding like Shashi Tharoor.

Why can’t we implement the judicial reforms? I implore-beg earnestly to this government. Let us make it impersonal. Let’s not take decisions impetuously or rashly. Let us not be impolite and let us reduce the imponderables. Imperfections will always be there and can be corrected. Let us not improvise at the spur of the moment rather have impeccable laws and lawyers to withstand these challenges.

Let us my dear politicians unite for the sake of this country. Calling names won’t work. Cursing will not either. We need to stop doing “Ghatia Politics”. Tomorrow they may initiate proceedings to impeach the Service Chiefs and the President also? Can they? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

SUNDAY SHOPPING

SUNDAY SHOPPING

 

Sunday is our weekly shopping day. It is the same old routine. Find parking for your car. I prefer the scooter as it is easy to manoeuvre. Hand over a few shoes and sandals to the “Mochi” (cobbler). Yes one odd piece you find shearing off and going to get one from Bombay is not worth the petrol to be burnt.  Our man Friday is such a smiley chap and will wish you with so much of warmth that I can’t help but shaking his hand every time we use his services. He will be waiting patiently even though it would be beyond his duty hours and will also tell you that probably we did not notice that the other shoe too needed a mend. The other day it was raining heavily. We had to get my daughters school shoes repaired and we got late, he knew tomorrow she has to go to school, he waited for us. Advantages of a small place I must say.

Next stop is our sabzi-wala. One of his workers is “Walter”. I love to see him glow with excitement seeing me and my wife. He will wish us the loudest good evening and then speak only in Marathi. By now he knows what we prefer. They generally hand over a basket to you to select your vegetables. I do it the other way, I tell him to do it for me. This way I ensure I will not get a dressing down from my wife as I still have no idea which bhopla (kaddu/pumpkin) is good and which bhindi (okra) is “Kauli” (tender) even after close to thirty years of marriage.

I was noticing how people pick up tomatoes. They will pick up one and drop it. Pick up the second one press it, look around it and drop it, pick the third one up and put it in their basket and this happens to more than twenty they need. I kept noticing that how long that one particular tomato is not picked up. I was amazed that the ones that I had fixed my eyes on were picked up by the next lady. This lady also dropped quite a few and picked up the ones dropped by the previous chap. The sabzi-wala puts up a huge basket full; one actually is confused as to what to pick up and what to drop. As the basket empties out, he doesn’t replace or refill them. A person who needs them will have to pick up from what is placed in front of you. Smart, I would say.

Then I came across one guy not taking off his helmet. He was just pointing out to Walter to weigh what he wants. Soon I realised he had his mobile stuck inside his helmet and was hands free of sorts. We Indians have a jugad (improvise) for everything. Then I found one fellow with his helmet’s face guard over his forehead.  That too was for a purpose. The pan masala he was chewing and the mixture which accumulates inside the mouth has to be spit out.  I asked him then why do you wear it, he said traffic police.

My macchiwali is very smart. She will shout uncle surmai sasti ho gai hai (Fish has become cheap). So even if you don’t want to buy it you get carried away. She will take out a small one and say pandrah shau 1500. You look at her and are about to turn back she says shaat shay pannas 750. You show two fingers meaning 200, now she looks back as if to say, what nonsense you are talking man. I realised two things if you get into a conversation with them you will not be able to wriggle out. Second is become “besharam” (shameless) and haggle and haggle till cows come home. Moment you start become a bara saab you will not know when she has stripped you.

After all this shopping is generally my haircut time. The head massage after that is the attraction. The ladies I leave at a general store to pick up their shampoos and lipsticks.  I don’t know how these barbers know which hair to cut. I find him snipping at the same place for ages neglecting the rest of the circumference. He always asks me “Chota karun” (shall I cut them short). In the first thirty seconds he would have cleared the head and it takes him the next ten minutes to find hair and keep snipping.

I remember going to a saloon in Bombay, that chap took an hour to snip off what my barber does in ten minutes. The only thing was that he used about 11 types of scissors and shavers. Another thing I noticed in our desi barbers. Once they have snipped some hair, they continue doing the sniping action behind your head in thin air. Why they do it, I will have to research. The difference between my barber and the saloon wala nai was 450 bucks. My nai does a better job any day and gives me a head massage free. The saloon chap will charge me a fortune.

Be that as it may, small little things and personal touch matters. My daughter keeps asking me that dad you have friends all over. The auto wala, the sabji wala, the chana-mufali wala, the chicken wala, macchiwali (I call her my girl friend) even the cobbler and the barber greet you so nicely. I tell her yes beta, it is nice to know them too as they do very important jobs. It is our duty to treat them with dignity and show respect. Will my daughter understand the importance of these people, I wonder!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

DISHING OUT HEADACHES

DISHING OUT HEADACHES

 

I am not happy with Mr Tata. The reason is because my life has not become “Jhingalala” even after “isko laga dala”.  It forces me to take a “Disprin” often. You will ask me why, the reason is Tata Sky.

After having got fed up from the noisy news, I said to myself, let me explore other channels that the dish throws at me. I realised, it gets irritating as there are more than umpteen news channels in all shapes, sizes and languages. I try and remember my favourite news channel number not because of the content but because of the charming news anchor. I generally don’t subscribe to what they say, how they say & to whom they say it to. Earlier they used to fight on debates at night, now it is a whole day affair.  I find a “macchi market” quieter.

See I drifted from where I started and this exactly happens on the panel discussions. You start with a topic and land up cursing the founder fathers of India. Tata saab, I subscribe to a bouquet of prime sports but half of them say that I have to subscribe to them separately after paying. Sir please, I would suggest can we have an exchange offer. I shall surrender to you all news channels and you give me all sports channels. One more request, kindly avoid WWF kind of channels. For that I will continue to subscribe to a news channel.

As the definition of bouquet goes, it says an attractively arranged bunch of flowers carried as a gift or for a ceremony. I am sure a bunch of flowers could be of a varied variety or even single. Here we have a single stem with multiple flowers like the gladiola. No smell, same colour, some half open, some withering. That’s how our news channels are. All of them latch on to one story and all have got the same agenda. I don’t want to see a wilted flower but I have no choice but to see and hear what is being doled out to me “Zabardasti”.

I find if one has to really gain knowledge, one needs to get away from the idiot box. As they say you have to be in a learned mans company to learn and that is what happened with me yesterday. I was invited by none other than an Ex Naval Chief. It was a real privilege to meet a man who has seen so much, known so much, reads and writes so much. The hour and a half spent with him felt as if I am in a different world. I confessed to him that this is the first time I am meeting an Admiral. I was in awe, starry eyed, feeling so good deep inside that word cannot express.

His thoughts and understanding of things happening around us is unmistakably from the years of his experience and deep understanding of this country’s affairs. I must confess Sir that I forgot to present you with the mangoes I carried, in my excitement. My wife gave me such a dressing down and my daughter is still laughing. Believe you me sir, my mind was blank but I remember each and every word you spoke. Thank you Sir, it was an honour to shake hands and take a picture with you.

This reminds me of a “Kabir ka doha”. “Ek Ghari adhi ghari, adhi se puni aadh, kabir sangat sadhu ki, kaaten koti apradh”(spending few moments or fraction of those moments with learned people cleanse you or wash away all your dirty thoughts). Thank you sir and that is how I felt yesterday.

Today, we are enslaved by our cell phones. We sway, get carried away and get influenced by the negativity being spread through social media, especially the news. Let me not mince my words here to reflect on the political representatives who are there to just spew venom. It gets embarrassing to hear that the people who love to recite kabir are in what kind of sangati that they create an atmosphere of hatred all over.

I have no choice as my family is interested in dance and singing programmes which also are part of the jhingalala guldasta. I cannot stop them from their entertainment. News channels definitely are no more “seedhi baat” but are pure and unadulterated “bakwas”. Serials are elongated versions of a ball of dough. One can keep stretching them till eternity. They repeat the same expression from 30 different angles in those 20 minutes, with sound effects that never happen in actual life.

Be that as it may, I think I will find learned people and be in their company rather than rely on things that are dished out to me from a dish. I don’t want to become kabir & give pravachans but I definitely want to get rid of the headache by understanding life in a better perspective rather being a couch potato. Will I be able to do it? I wonder!!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

MISS MONEY PENNY

[ninja_form id=1]MISS MONEY PENNY

 

 I have been visiting my new girlfriend Miss Money Penny every alternate day since first of the month. She stays at a very convenient location and on the way to office. Invariably I find her sick as her main door shutter is always half down. Well she is my ATM. Shutter down means two things, either the bank people are filling in cash or there is a mechanic inside trying to locate where all the hidden money is.

Moment I wish Jai-Maharashtra to the ATM guard, you can straight away make out from his expressions that will the darling give me cash or will it show you its tongue by spitting out a white chit of paper, stating no funds.

BSNL net connectivity is another issue here. It works in a typical “Bhartiya” way that unless you kick the ATM twice it will not hand over cash. Sometimes it is so slow that you tell the guard, look friend, I am going to have a cup of tea, in case my sweetheart decides to shower her blessings, please collect the amount for me. The damn thing becomes so slow that to punch those four numbers one has to wait till an X appears on the screen, which takes ages. If you press a wrong pin, out it will spew a “parchi” stating your transaction is cancelled.

Most of the times one finds the home page very dim. One really has to touch the screen recalling from your memory, one wrong touch and she gets angry. Instead of savings if you punch on current you are back to square one as there is a difference between a chalu khata (current account) and a bachat khata (savings account). “Khata chalu nahi hota aur bachat hum se hoti nahi”.

As the line outside gets longer, people start losing their patience. They are afraid that the man inside may take out all the money. You find people start knocking & peeping thorough the glass door. I wait coolly as I get hold of the friendly cats that live there to play with.

Then there are some people who just do not come out. After 15 odd attempts he will come out grinning to tell you that he was just checking his balance. Grrrrrrrrr!!!!! Moment you go in you find the damn thing working fine and you swipe your debit card. It says, your transaction is being processed. Suddenly you hear lots of churing, flipping, Cheeeen, Chooooon sounds. Then you hear that very familiar sound of counting of notes, Kharrrrrrr.  It brings a grin to your face that today is my day.

In between the transaction you get a sms that your account has been debited by say 5000 rupees. Your eyes get lit up, though they are fixed at the mouth of the orifice which throws out the money. No money comes. You skip a heartbeat, still no money; you again hear the churning sounds, some solace, out comes parchi inadequate funds. Now you don’t know what to do. It is 8pm now the earliest you can contact the bank is tomorrow morning. The whole night’s sleep is gone. At five in the morning you get another sms that the transaction has been cancelled. Phew! You breathe a sigh of relief.

Next day on your way to the office you wave at the ATM guard who by now is a MIP (most important person). Everyone has his mobile number saved in speed dial mode. If you see him smiling and waving back then “miss money penny” is obliging. If he raises his hand with a frown on his face and with a vigorous twist of his wrist means you are forbidden to even look in her direction.

Our ATM is close to our hospital that means a visit to the doctor is inescapable. Reason is moment you enter the ATM cubicle you get chilled to your bones. From the hot and humid climate when you enter a chilled deep freezer you have goose bumps all over. Moment you come out, the blast of heat hits you again and its “sard-garm” already. You ask the guard “itna thanda kyon”, he says that the cats like it chilled. I looked at the cats and said balle balle.

At last I could get hold of some cash on the 18th of this month. This was not through the ATM but with a self cheque by standing in queue for an hour and a half. The Bank Madam as she is known is very strict. I said madam 18 days of this month have passed, when the ATM will be up and about. She said if you have waited for so long, can’t you wait for another week. I thought to myself why not. I knew that the bank and bankwali are thoroughbred bhartiya from the State bank of “Bharat”.

At last the manager gave 20k to me as a special case and told that do not return this month for more. She doesn’t know I have an account in another bank also. Will that banks Miss Money Penny give me what I need?  I wonder!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

ANNA-HARA-ZARA-RE  

This piece I had written when Anna had started his crusade against corruption, 19/04/2011, I heard he was again on fast for the MSP for farmers. In the din of other news, his story was washed out from every Indians mind, thanks to the media. Should he continue his crusade now? I wonder!!!!!

ANNA-HARA-ZARA-RE

Over the last couple of weeks we all have been witnessing a campaign started by a simple Ex-Army man, who faced near death in the Khemkaran sector in the 1965 Indo-Pak war. He is on a fast to death at Jantar Mantar. Khemkaran became a graveyard of the Paki tanks and Jantar Mantar should be the burial ground of the corrupt and corruption. Great going Sir, every Indian salutes you and shall support you. ‘THE CORRUPT” and their accomplices need to be booked. Your crusade has begun and now it is our duty to carry it forward to its conclusion.

Anna, you started your reformation from the grass roots and now your crusade is hitting the highest political masters. You say that you will lose your security deposit if you stand for elections. Is it that you don’t have money or is it that you are not corrupt? For winning elections public support is required and you have already won their hearts and minds. I suggest that you should be part of the political process. Then only all those working under you can be controlled. Thereafter you can bring to justice all others whom you find unfair, unjust and corrupt. To be able to annihilate all corrupt political practices, you yourself need to understand how they do it. An important aspect we were taught in the Army was to fight against militants and to finish a militant, you got to think like a militant, be better trained than him, shoot better than him, garner more local support than him, have your intelligence better than him and ultimately destroy him. For militant here read politician.

The media today is the greatest watch dog for these political big-wigs, they can take them head on but the foundations of corruption lie deep down under. It starts from the lowest rank. Our society watchman charges Rs 5/- from every Dhobi, Bai, Paperwala, Machhiwala, pavwala etc. Can we stop him? I think we can, if we give him adequate remuneration. That poor man stands for 12 hours, running errands for half the society members to make that extra buck besides doing his duty. Corruption starts here.

Items sold through PDS are siphoned off. Poor man gets nothing. Kerosene meant for him is used for adulterating other fuels. A gas cylinder is available faster in BLACK than the three weeks wait for the WHITE. The MNREGA money is going in the wrong hands. The mid day meals are eaten by the greedy, proxy attendance by rural teachers and doctors leaves the illiterate as illiterate and the sick further sick. The middlemen and farmers are always at logger heads and are not allowed direct access to the mandi’s. Food is rotting in FCI godowns since decades. The hungry are never fed.

Healthcare, employment, literacy and two square meals a day is the bottom line. Social security, shelter, physical security & women empowerment are also places where corruption is rampant. Today, we fear our Police not because they are strict but because they will drag us everywhere for no fault of ours. So, pay a small token which makes him happy and saves me the inconvenience.

NGO management needs focus Anna. Some of them are government aided, some are not, and some are fraud too. I would like you to crusade for them too. They need to be grouped together, made to focus, distributed equitably, and supported adequately as they are linked with the grass roots more than anyone else. We should empower them through you. Let us stop the ministers from distributing TVs, Mixer’s and lap tops & subsidised rice. Let the NGOs do it, then we shall see the strength and power of the vote bank.

Fast track anti corruption courts which are adequately staffed to give out justice in a time bound manner is also the need of the day. Let the Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta be set up. Let them not be politically influenced which is also a form of corruption. Anna, there are miles to go before you and I sleep.

I also want you to crusade for the Police, Armed Forces and Para Military forces too so that the government gives them better pay, perks and privileges. They should have an assurance that where ever they go they will get a place to stay, a school for their kids, and their domestic matters in the village/town they belong to be looked into even after they leave for duty or transferred. Let the Gram panchayats and the zila parishads be extra sensitive to their issues when he is posted to far flung areas. Let this man be assured that on retirement, he shall have a roof over his head.

One last thing Anna, let us focus on the MPs and MLAs, downwards to the Sarpanch. Let’s take a bottom up approach. Let the government protect every citizen who exposes corruption cases. If we do ten such cases in every state every month the corrupt will be shaken and stirred. Corruption shall definitely evaporate one day. I said, ANNA-HARA-ZARA-RE, should not land up as ANNA-HAAR-NA-JANA-RE is my prayer. My heart and soul is with you, as they say when the going gets tough the tough get going. Will Anna succeed in his mission? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

PERCEPTION & REALITY

I was sitting in a closing meeting of ISO certification the other day. The lead auditor was a Bengali and a senior citizen. He appeared to be very transparent and upright, the way he had spelt out conduct the audit. At the end of a two day gruelling process we all were awaiting the pearls of wisdom from him.

In the industry, I find that all these ISO certifications are a must if you really mean business. There are some companies which have a clause inserted in their business plan that they won’t do any business with companies without these certifications. It is not surprising though all these auditors have a standard check list, in addition they get hold of your standing operating procedures and then start picking holes in your system one by one. At the end of the day every Industry fears for a thing called NCs (non-compliances) which are Major NC and Minor NC. Let me not get into the nitty-gritty’s now.

I also happened to find out that there are quite a few agencies that do this accreditation and most of them are based in US of A or UK. Isn’t it surprising? An industry in India is being certified to the satisfaction of these countries that have no clue how our industry actually functions.

Manpower is the first thing which is axed in all industries. They want a lean mean fighting machine. Asking for overtime is a taboo. Working late is routine and expected. You have to be multi tasking with ten hands of Goddess Durga. The work which should be done today should have finished last week. The reports and statistics need to be produced in past tense. The beauty is that people still produce them. Aim is to show you are working basically covering your backside by sending mails.

Let’s come to social accountability. Is anyone responsible for the manager category? The whole system is worker oriented. It is assumed that the industry would be taking care of its managers automatically. The truth is very far from it. Then comes the union bazi, well lesser said the better about it. In all my experience, I have only seen union leaders taking the goonda approach or are kept shut with money depending upon the number of workers and the size of the industry. People talk about food basket, minimum wages, statutory compliances, safety procedures etc. Do they really mean what they say?

Problem with us Indians is that we want to ape what the US manual says without giving it due thought about comparative resources which are made available there. Their mind set, their culture needs to be taken into considerations. Above all they are far more honest and far less corrupt than us.

Environment is an issue; the watch dogs want every industry to produce only oxygen and pure water as its waste. One micron this side or that side there will be hell to pay. Issue doesn’t end here as these microns are managed by cash or kind. The boiler inspector will not even boil a cup of tea in the container but certify things as if they are straight out of the sauce pan. I was not aware that a job like a lift operator needs a certificate from an authorised institution, like a drivers licence. More are the compliances more is the outflow of cash, plus stay in company guest houses on the house.

I got cheesed off at this auditor mentioned about retired “sarkari karamchari”. As per him they only take a hefty pension without having worked. His brother gets a good pension working at “CHEETOROUNJAAN LOKHOMOTEEBS”. Then he started off on the income tax he has to pay. All of that is eaten up by government people especially the forces. These were the pearls which ultimately fell. I lost my shirt and told him that friend I gave my yesterday for your today. If you cannot be grateful for our services then you have no business to utter what you are uttering. The irony was many of the employees started agreeing that all their taxes are eaten up by government people especially from the forces and why are they penalised for it.

I walked out of the hall feeling hurt, that imagine what the civilian psyche is. As if they are the only ones paying to run this country. They seem to be ashamed to pay tax for the forces. They will never understand what each person in uniform went through. These people have been static, lived in a secure environment, getting hefty pays and getting the best of facilities with his family, with children getting best of education, contributing zero to nation building.

I really felt sad about the knowledge these people have about the forces. Should I waste time to teach them about what the armed forces are all about? I wonder!!!!!!!!

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

INDIAN MILITARY ACADEMY TALES

[ninja_form id=1]IMA was supposed to be a cake walk for us “nangas” but it happened to be otherwise for me. I was very happy to see Baljeet Sandhu in my platoon, after all SAIKAPIAN school types. The term break after NDA had cast a spell on me as I went through a nasty cycle of typhoid; jaundice and malaria in one go. I could barely stand on my two feet. Thanks to Rajinder Bhagtana who took real care of me till Dehradun. He had accompanied me to NDA wing along with Hitesh Kohli also. Heesh do you remember Jalandhar railway station.  Hope my memory is correct.

On arrival at IMA they asked us to deposit our identity cards of NDA for new ones to be issued. Let me confess now folks I had lost my NDA I card in fourth term in Ajmer when I had gone to attend my cousins wedding. She was the sis of Sanjeev Vajpei (G/65) God bless his soul. Can you believe it I did the entire monthly I card checks including drill com without one?  Now don’t ask me how I did it, I just did it. As it is I was shifted from Charlie to India Sqn with 28 days restrictions which finished with 42 of them besides the EDs & Lal Makans. Had I reported this loss, I would have definitely been a Brigadier if not a General.

Loss of I-Card, 14 days Restrictions from the Bhagat battalion parade ground into the tea gardens became a routine for me. I think I finished with 42 here also. I lost count actually. This did not deter me from doing my monkey tricks.

I remember how the Keren Company diving team was selected. Maj Satinder Singh (PARA) landed in one of the PT parades. Typical of him, all those who have passed all PT tests to my left. Half the second termers moved there, all those who have passed all higher tests to my right, so half of the rest moved there. Then he said all those who have passed two first class tests come to me. Seven of us came forward including me. You are now the company diving team, ustad inko swmming pool main le jao. So I learnt to do the “pike” and “swallow”. Shammer that I was I chose spring board as maximum he could push me to 3 meters. Who wanted to dive from seven or ten?

I also had a cat. All winter she used to be in my cabin in my rajai and when it came to littering she used to go my next cabin an Iraqi called ALI. This man used to keep a brand new quilt in his cupboard for cabin cupboard. He realised it too late and the cat had done her job. Anyways she became our fond pet. CSM Johnny and I have a pic with him. Do you guys remember Najim abdul lateef, tofeek ali wali quli blah blah blah another Iraqi. He had twenty four names and his sir name was Mohammed. Bugger only asked for pondies.

We had an ACC course mate Dili P Gurung, (God Bless his soul too) we became chaddi-buddies. I had a heater and used to make halwa very often. Basic Punjabi instincts. We used to have a typical laundry cupboard. I had a false bottom in it to hide all my gadgets like the sauce pan, ghee and various masalas. One day I had gone to Dehradun on liberty, Daju as I used to fondly call him did not come with me but promised me that once I come back he will get fish from Prem Nagar from his old ACC connections. He used to fondly call me EL. I came back and had fantastic fish fry and as luck would have it Capt Rayan Peter Lobo landed up on a Sunday surprise check. Daju was on 14 days run and my heater was confiscated. I disowned it. I had more company running around the tea gardens with me. Daju touched his ears that this was the first and last time he ever cooked in his cabin.

I had a bhabhi in Dehradun staying on Nashville road. Doonites would know the road and so would Salim Asif. We had had khana once, remember Salim. So there was a wedding in the family so I and Daju were invited. We went through Thimmaya battalion short cut on our cycles. We had a blast. Enjoyed the reception, daju carried his guitar and played like hell with the live band there. It was close to midnight and we both were a little high, well fed and feeling confident that no one will catch us while entering Bhagat battalion. As we were passing the FRI gate we heard a voice STOP. Instinct was to scoot but now we were gentlemen so we stopped. In the dark we saw a lady sitting on a lambretta scooter and a “Surdy” roaming around. Bloody hell, it was GJ. He took my cycle, mam sat on the danda and off he went. I had no choice but to sit on Daju’s danda. GJ had newly joined so asked us which company, I said keren. Name I gave him. Next day morning a Sikh Regiment jawan came looking for me. A shinning bike was handed over to me and I was told to report to his office at 1.30pm along with Daju. We got 7 hackel orders for not maintaining our bikes. They were cancelled before we were marched out. That used to be the spirit.

Next outing both I and daju were at bhabhi’s place. It was late already and we could not have got back in time. We found both our bikes punctured. We dug into our pockets and we had no money for a vikram too. Bhaiya offered yaar take my scooter and we did. I brought it and parked it in Bhangi platoons first room which was used as a batty’s store room. Next Saturday we decided to scoot after lunch. It was winters so wearing monkey caps both of us started from Keren company tea point. By the time we turned from the swimming pool turn I got an inkling a scooter is following us. I told daju not to look behind and I did the typical, “Nap de killi”. It was difficult to manoeuvre along the canal due to the pot holes but nevertheless. Two scooters were on a race. We reached the FRI gate and I took that road which used to go to clement town. Soon we turned back to find Sarkar kicking his scooter. I think his petrol finished. We enjoyed the evening in doon and came back in a Vikram. Got down at Prem Nagar and sneaked in.

Once we had finished our camp in the Sharanpur jungles we were getting ready for camp fire. Daju and I decided to carry a bottle of beer each and we will sit somewhere half way for a boost as it will help us finish the march with ease. It was Daju’s idea. The beauty was we carried the bloody bottles of beer till the end and they got confiscated when our kit was checked at the end of the josh run. Patil was generous enough to issue us another couple of bottles with promise to pay next week after Daju’s pay day.

We were third termers and cross country practice was on. We used to run to Garhi Cantt and turn towards RIMC and then get back if I remember the route correctly. Daju had his Gorkhali friends in Garhi and we had decided to have tea with them. Daju’s girlfriend was standing there to receive us. A voice came from behind buggers if I don’t find you guys in the third enclosure you guys are in for trouble. Capt Sarkar was following us again. We saw the family waving but refused to recognise them. We just about finished in time and escaped his wrath.

JAI HIND

© Noel Ellis

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